VINCENNES, Ind (WEHT) A Vincennes University student has the honor of displaying one of her paintings on Capitol Hill.
Freshman Lydia Higgins won first place in the 2020 Congressional Art Competition for the Illinois 15th Congressional District. Her winning artwork “War Paints” hangs in a pedestrian walkway that connects the U.S. Capitol with the oldest House office building.
The artwork of winners from congressional districts all over the country lines the Cannon Tunnel connecting the Capitol with the Cannon House Office Building. The Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide visual art competition every year.
Higgins bubbled over with excitement when she got the call telling her she won.
“So many people can enter this contest, and it’s a huge district,” she said. “I was blown away when I got the call.”
“War Paints” is an oil painting that took Higgins around three months to complete. It depicts a girl covered in paint with a butterfly over her mouth. Higgins says the paint is symbolic of the heartache and pain people are experiencing, and the butterfly represents hope in the midst of the many challenges her generation is facing.
“There’s so much going on in the world,” she said. “There’s COVID. Lots of people are dealing with mental illness, especially in my generation. So many people are having to deal with tough issues at such a younger age. The butterfly represents hope, freedom, and what we are working towards especially now during COVID.”
Higgins, an elementary education major from Lawrenceville, Illinois, plans to incorporate art into her classroom. She says it breaks her heart that art education is going away in many K-12 schools. Before COVID-19, she taught art to 4H students.
“Art is such an important part of the learning process and being creative,” she said.
COVID-19 also kept Higgins from attending a special ceremony in Washington D.C. that celebrated the winners of the art competition. Winners normally receive airline tickets to attend a reception and unveiling of the exhibit, but the event is not being held this year due to COVID-19.
She hopes to make a trip next year to see her painting on display.
“I would enjoy getting to see it,” she said. “It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get to see it. It’s still up there, but I would love to get to see it.”
In 2018, she received an honorable mention for her work titled “Portrait.” It was on display in one of the congressman’s Illinois district offices.
(This story was originally published on October 27, 2020)
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